POLICE are writing to poachers to warn them off targeting North Yorkshire this autumn and winter.

The letters are part of a crackdown this autumn and winter on poaching that will include the county's police delivering letters by hand and working closely with rural communities.

Inspector Matt Hagon of the county's police rural taskforce said: “We know that poaching offences go up from August onwards, so we’re issuing a timely reminder: poachers will not be tolerated in North Yorkshire, and will be dealt with swiftly and robustly.

“Our officers, some of whom have farming backgrounds, know the terrible impact poaching can have on rural communities.

"Poachers often have no regard for farmers and landowners, causing thousands of pounds of damage to crops. Victims are often intimidated or even threatened with violence if they challenge offenders, leaving them feeling vulnerable to further crimes, particularly in isolated areas.

“On top of that, evidence suggests that poaching offenders are also involved in other aspects of criminality – including the organised theft of quad bikes and farm machinery.

“Officers are working hand-in-hand with local communities. Reports of poaching will be taken extremely seriously, so poachers will find it very difficult to enter and leave North Yorkshire unchallenged.”

North Yorkshire Police will send letters to everyone suspected of poaching in the county in the past and in some cases will hand deliver the letters.

The letters are part of Operation Figaro, a new anti-poaching initiative by the county force.

Poachers particularly target Ryedale, Selby and Hambleton districts and concentrate their activities between September and February.

The police want members of the public to alert them to suspicious behaviour, such as such as unusual vehicle movements, particularly in remote or isolated areas.

WhatsApp groups and mobile rural watch schemes cover more than 90 per cent of rural North Yorkshire.